After viewing an episode of KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER, forerunner to and inspiration for THE X-FILES, entitled “The Spanish Moss Murders,” I wondered if the supernatural threat featured in that episode was based on a genuine legend. As most episodes of this series did feature titular character Darren McGavin fighting some monster out of actual mythology, as opposed to some fictional construct created strictly for the series, I figured the towering, moss-draped fiend “Père Malfait” must be real, too. Based on a real legend, that is; whether or not he, or it, exists in the literal sense has yet to be conclusively determined. A quick google search, though, revealed that Père Malfait
is indeed a real mythic creature.
Translated as “Father-does-bad” or something like that, Pere Malfait was originally known as the “Father of the Bad Leaves,” or “Père Mal Feuilles.” You see how the name developed, there? Either one fits the creature, though, equally. It is said to stand between seven and eight feet tall and, like the monster in the TV show, to be covered in verdant plant matter. It can even disguise itself as a tree to await hapless passersby in the depths of the primeval swamplands. The vampire connection comes into play with the suggestion that the creature can only be repelled when a stake is driven into it, a stake fashioned from swamp wood. Whether this latter attribute comes more from mythology or the writers of the TV show, though, I have yet to determine.